Credit card match-ups: “Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum”
You may have heard that the Amex Platinum underwent some major changes recently. If you haven’t, the biggest takeaways are the higher annual fee and the Digital Entertainment Credit.
Amex Platinum will no longer charge cardholders $550 per year for the privilege of holding the card. Instead, they’ll have to fork over $695 every 365 days for the honor. Yes, you read it right, $695!
That makes it one of the most expensive credit cards available, and pushes it about $150 above other ultra-premium offerings, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve.
It almost seems personal, as if American Express said to Chase, “If you’re going to charge $450 for your top of the line credit card, we’re going to charge $550 because ours is superior.”
Then Sapphire Reserve’s AF went to $550 and Platinum upped the ante again.
Don’t get it twisted, this was clearly Amex’s rebuttal to the CSR, which has gained a cult following in a few short years of existence.
Which Is Better: Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum?
Okay, so we know these two cards are going head-to-head with one another, which brings us to the next logical question: Which one is better?!
Well, that’s a great question, and one I can help answer with a side-by-side comparison of benefits.
As alluded to earlier, the new version of Amex Platinum has a $695 annual fee, which is the biggest highlight. The other major change is a positive one – a $240 annual Digital Entertainment Credit.
Yep, you get $240 per year in free streaming credits (or Audible or NY Times or Sirius XM).
That means $20 monthly to offset a subscription you probably already have.
Amex Platinum $200 Uber Cash
This is on top of the $15 that is deposited into your Uber account each month ($35 in December).
It is automatically used every time you use Uber or Uber Eats (so long as you add an Amex Platinum card as a payment option in the Uber app).
In December, you get a bonus $20 on top of the $15 monthly credit, making it an even $200 credit spread over 12 months.
The obvious problem with this is that you might take a $30 ride one month and no rides the next. Here are some other disappointing details:
– The Uber credit can only be applied to rides within the United States
– The $15 monthly ride credit expires at 11:59 PM local time on the last day of each month
– Any unused Uber credit will not carry over to the following month
– If a ride is eligible for another promotion in your Uber account, that promotion will be applied first
In other words, plenty can go wrong here, and with the Uber credits not rolling over month-to-month, you can get a lot less than $200 out of the deal.
Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 Annual Travel Credit
Meanwhile, Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you a $300 annual travel credit with far fewer restrictions.
It’s such a wide category that you can use the credit for hotels, airline tickets, airline gift cards, airport parking, tolls, car rentals, cruises, discount travel sites, oh, and Uber AND Lyft. That includes Uber Eats…
You also don’t have to worry about using the credit each month in measured amounts – you can use it all in one day if you want.
Simply put, you get $100 more than Amex is giving you and you can use it in a lot more places any time you want.
The upside to Amex Platinum is that they give you a $200 annual airline credit too, which of course can’t even be used for airfare – just incidentals like checked bags and in-flight snacks and drinks.
Another lame benefit unless you find a loophole, of which some seem to exist if you dig around.
Let’s Tally It Up: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum
Amex Platinum offers a $200 Uber credit, $240 streaming credit, and $200 airline credit.
Take the $695 annual fee and subtract those three credits and you’re at $55. Not bad if you can maximize the credits.
Meanwhile, Chase Sapphire Reserve costs $550 and only has the $300 credit, so the net cost is $250. About $200 more than Amex Platinum.
Oh, and did I mention the sign-up bonus on Amex Platinum is 125,000 Membership Rewards points currently?
That’s more than double the 60,000 being offered by Chase Sapphire Reserve.
However, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be cashed out at 1 cent a piece, if need be, whereas Amex Membership Rewards points are really only good for transfers to airlines.
So it appears Platinum is way better than CSR at the moment.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Was Better Than Amex Platinum, But Not Anymore
|Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve||American Express Platinum|
|Annual fee||$550 (not waived 1st year)||$695 (not waived 1st year)|
|Travel credit||$300 for any travel purchase including Uber, Lyft, discount travel websites, hotels, etc.||$200 for checked bags, in-flight purchases with one selected airline|
|Digital credit||N/A||$240 for streaming or NY Times, Sirius XM, or Audible|
|Annual Uber credit||Can be $300 (see details above)||$200 ($15 monthly, doesn’t carry over)|
|Global Entry and TSA Pre credit||$100 for either||$100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA Pre|
|Airport lounge access||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounge, International Amex lounges|
|Foreign transaction fees||Zero (Visa accepted mostly everywhere)||Zero (Amex acceptance rate not so great)|
|Point categories||3X on travel and at restaurants worldwide||5X on airfare booked directly or via Amex and at Amex hotels|
|Authorized user cost||$75 per card||$175 for up to 3 additional cards|
|Point redemptions||Can transfer to airlines or redeem for cash||Only good for transfers to airlines|
|What is the card made of?||Metal alloy||Metal alloy|
|Travel redemption bonus||50% more value for travel redemptions via Chase (50k UR = 75k UR)||Use Pay with Points when booking airfare with Amex Express Travel and earn FF miles|
Amex Platinum Is Now the Far Superior Credit Card
In the past, the Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus of 100k points, making it a lot more lucrative.
And this was at a time when the Amex Platinum only offered a 60k sign-up bonus for an additional $1,000 in minimum spending ($5k total).
That made Sapphire Reserve the standout between the two.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit also used to be calendar-based, before becoming anniversary-year based.
This means you can no longer double dip and get it twice before paying the annual fee a second time.
The Amex Platinum $200 travel credit can still be used each calendar year, though it is more restrictive than Chase’s.
However, at this juncture I can easily say that Amex Platinum wins this battle.
In fact, I don’t even know if I can recommend CSR anymore with the changes in place.
You Can Always Apply for Both Cards…
In summary, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has much greater flexibility than Amex Platinum when it comes to the travel credit and the use of points, but they’ve made the card a lot more basic.
It made quite a splash when it was first released, but Chase has since scaled back the benefits tremendously.
A strategy going forward might be to wait for a higher opening bonus, assuming either decide to up the stakes.
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t get both cards, if you’re so inclined. But wait for big bonuses.
Also note that Amex Platinum might only offer one sign-up bonus per lifetime.
In the case of Chase Sapphire Reserve, be sure it’s been 48 months since your last Sapphire bonus, that you don’t hold another Sapphire card, and you’re under 5/24.
(photo: Kristin Wall)
CSR – For Points redemption, you can transfer points to hotels as well, not just airlines or for cash. Also, there’s a difference in the Priority Passes. CSR allows “unlimited” free guests (up to what the individual lounge will allow), AMEX now (I believe starting March 30th) allows 2 free guests (up from 0 previously).
Good point about the lounge, though I don’t think I’d choose one over the other based on the 7-11 sandwiches and free beer. Still think CSR is way better, though with the opening bonus changing (getting halved) it might shift.